Engineering consultancy Otto Simon Holdings becomes employee owned

An engineering consultancy with 170 staff has become employee-owned.

Otto Simon Holdings is a £20m-turnover business with its headquarters in Cheadle, Greater Manchester, and operations in Stalybridge, Rotherham and Forfar.

The group, founded in 2004, provides design and build, project management, operation and maintenance and manufacturing services to global customers in the steel, petrochemical and renewable energy sectors.

Steve Haywood, the group’s co-founder and chairman, acquired full control of the company in 2008, when its annual turnover was just £2m.

Since then Otto Simon has grown organically by expanding its global customer base and by diversifying into emerging sectors such as waste-to-energy and biofuels, as well as through two acquisitions.

Steve has now transferred his shares to an employee ownership trust.

The day-to-day running of the Otto Simon group of companies will now be led by the directors of its four divisions, Chris Bridgland, Nick Shaw, Richard Buckley and Gary McCombie.

Steve said: “My view has been that employee ownership would be the best way of preserving our culture and ethos when the time came for me to step down.

“We have created a great team to ensure that the business has strong foundations for future growth and I know it is in safe hands.”

Otto Simon head office

Steve was advised on the transaction by a team of corporate finance and tax experts at HURST led by Nigel Barratt, partner and head of HURST Corporate Finance, and Liz Gallagher of the tax team.

Nigel said: “I advised Steve in 2008 and helped with the subsequent acquisitions. It’s really pleasing to see the latest transaction conclude his long-held ambition for the company.”

Rob Loveday of Manchester law firm LLM Solicitors provided legal advice.

He said: “We are delighted to have helped Steve and his team take the company to this new and exciting stage in its development.”

Employee ownership trusts were introduced by the government in 2014 and HURST has a specialist team to advise companies on their creation.

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